The International Relations Committee of the House of Lords published a report on 7 February urging the UK to use the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April to strengthen diplomatic relations with Commonwealth members.
Committee conclusions and recommendations:
- The Committee urges the UK Government to use the Commonwealth meeting to reinvigorate relations with Commonwealth members and to ensure commitments made at the meeting are delivered and positive outcomes achieved.
- The Committee welcomes the priority being given to preparations ahead of the meeting, and see this as a contrast to less positive government attitudes toward the Commonwealth in the past.
- The Government is urged to make clear to the public the potential benefits and opportunities of stronger ties with Commonwealth member states.
- The Committee hope in the conclusions of the meeting that Commonwealth members will express their full support for strengthening the international rules-based system.
- The Committee urge the Government to continue to take a robust position on all aspects or human rights, both at the forthcoming meeting and in the years ahead.
Committee Chairman, Lord Howell of Guildford, said “Britain must re-shape its international relations in changed world circumstances, regardless of Brexit. This meeting is the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate relations with the Commonwealth members and to strengthen our diplomatic, trade, defence and security ties across the network. We are pleased to hear of the Government’s clear commitments to the meeting and look forward to the positive outcomes it is set to deliver.”
The report followed a committee evidence session in January with Tim Hitchens, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Summit Unit, Cabinet Office, and Richard Oppenheim, UK Commonwealth Envoy, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The UK should reinvigorate its ties with the Commonwealth – Select Committee website
Britain’s future relations with the Commonwealth – Round Table interview with Lord Howell
Lord Howell’s address to an October 2017 Round Table conference on the Commonwealth
Plans for the Leaders’ Summit – interview with Tim Hitchens